As we get into the countdown for the New Year, some thoughts are in order about the state of our nation.

Sept. 11, 2001, will be forever remembered as the day America was attacked by evil terrorists.

But it was also a time when most Americans came together in support of our country.

It was a time when we remembered to take pride in the fact that we are Americans.

This is a time when we face the challenge of both maintaining our national security and preserving the very civil liberties that make us different from our enemies.

We believe America is up to this challenge now and in the New Year because we happen to be the greatest democratic nation on the face of this earth.

On a lighter note, we couldn & #039;t help but notice some remarks made by a person whose name is familiar to many New England skiers.

After a lifelong career in the ski business, Les Otten recently said he was looking forward to his new calling as a part owner and vice chairman of the Boston Red Sox.

In Otten & #039;s words: "I & #039;m going into this thinking we & #039;re going to see a lot of good games this summer."

We wish Mr. Otten well.

And can the wish of BoSox fans come true?

Can we look forward to seeing the team win the World Series next year?

In any event, many area residents are looking forward this evening to the excellent entertainment provided by First Night, St. Johnsbury & #039;s family friendly, alcohol-free New Year & #039;s Eve celebration.

Before we go home for the holiday, we want to wish all our readers in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont and the North Country of New Hampshire a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year in a land of peace and freedom in 2002.

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